TWO years ago, Daniel Bateson was hanging drywall with his family's home improvement business.

While handing out adhesive bandages at Vicenza's Army health clinic, the private first class had wondered if he'd get his shot to take part in the command's new initiatives-partnering with African militaries to promote stability on the continent.

Today, his wish has come true. The Connecticut-native is stationed in Djibouti, and the most junior U.S. Army Africa Soldier to mentor Africans on the continent. He and Sgt. 1st class Roddy Rieger went to Camp Lemonier for a weeklong course on first aid and medical evacuations, similar to the Army's combat lifesaver training.

"As medics, we know this as the simple stuff and it's not hard to share with others," Bateson, 21, said. "The Djiboutians were eager to learn and absorb this."

The team mentored 29 students from Djibouti's military, ranging from junior enlisted troops to company-grade officers, during a five-day course that included classroom instruction, hands-on exercises and a daylong test of the skills in a simulated hostile environment.

Rieger, 35, of Bismarck, N.D., a senior USARAF noncommissioned officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, knew that understanding both cultural and language issues would be the key to success. When building lessons, Rieger also relied on previous partnership assignments in Tunisia and Morocco.

"I'm an NCO and medicine is my passion," Rieger said. "If we helped just one Djiboutian, and he later uses that knowledge to save a life-that's what it's all about."